The story behind Mamaearth
By delivering happiness and reducing parental stress, Mamaearth has become one of the fastest-growing personal care brands in India
Instincts often drive major decisions in a new parent’s life. Whether it is your baby’s food, body care products, or even clothes; you follow your gut to get what’s best for your little bub. And, if that instinct is anything to go by, New Delhi-based couple Ghazal and Varun Alagh followed theirs to a tee, to pioneer one of India’s biggest made-safe baby care companies, Mamaearth.
As Ghazal recalls, “Our journey began when we were expecting our first child. That’s the time we turned from a bungee jumping, pub hopping, carefree couple to basically a couple of safety wardens. Everything had to be safe, kosher, and googled. When the morning sickness became a routine, we were shocked to find that there were no safer alternatives to pills and ended up having to struggle a lot.”
When they were finally blessed with their son Agastya, they realised that nothing in the market was ‘safe’ for their baby.
“We were worried sick and it wasn’t just our baby we were worried about but also for all the little ones we knew in our friend circle. That’s when we decided to do something about it and create products which were completely safe and certified toxin free,” adds Ghazal, who was born and raised in Chandigarh.
A former corporate trainer and New York Academy of Arts alumni, Ghazal co-founded Mamaeath with her husband Varun, an engineer from DCE and MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur. Together, the two trusted their parental instinct to pave the way for a new range of innovative baby care products in the Indian market.
And its safe to say that since its kick-off in 2016, Mamaearth has made parenting and baby care, healthier for Indian parents.
We interviewed Mamaearth’s co-founders, Ghazal and Varun Alagh, to know more about their parenting journey and what Indian parents must know about their innovative products.
Ghazal: We met through one of our relatives. Conversations started around general things and we realized we felt like talking to each other all the time.
One thing led to the other and around five months later, we tied the knot and decided to embark on this journey, called life together.
Ghazal: Our journey began when we were expecting our first child. That’s the time we turned from a carefree couple to basically a couple of safety wardens. Everything had to be safe, kosher and googled. When the morning sickness became a routine, we were shocked to find that there were no safer alternatives to pills and ended up having to struggle a lot.
After nine rigorous months, we were finally blessed with our tiny little bundle of joy and just like you and every other parent in the world; we too wanted the best for our cute bambino.
So we wore our spyglasses and did all the possible research available. We were shocked to see how most baby products, be it lotion or shampoo contained toxins which have proven to be harmful to the little ones. We were worried sick and it wasn’t just our baby we were worried about but also for all the little ones we knew in our friend circle.
That’s when we decided to do something about it and create products which were completely safe and certified toxin free.
A brand, by a parent, for the parent. A brand which develops products from world-class research and attempts to solve every little problem that we as parents face. With the aim of making products which are mum-baby friendly, toxin-free, meet stringent international standards and are basically ultra awesome, MamaEarth was born.
Ghazal: Our son, Agastya, had eczema – a condition where the skin is allergic to a whole lot of substances and turns red and itchy when exposed to them which is why we ended up hunting for all kinds of toxin-free baby products— from lotion to baby wash and mosquito repellants.
Ghazal: On the one hand, we would keep asking our friends and family living/traveling to the US to bring back toxin-free products. When we discussed this problem with our friends who were new parents, we were surprised to find many of them were facing the same issue.
Even if their child didn’t have a severe allergic condition, they were concerned about the amount of chemicals that baby cosmetics contained and were trying just as hard as us to find toxin-free alternatives.
Varun: Working with your wife, the biggest advantage is that we already know the mechanism of sorting out our differences and disagreements. I know she will be there to support me and I can trust her. We keep challenging each other as we already know how to push the limits.
Ghazal: There were some initial hiccups while working together, as the boundary between personal and professional commitment, becomes hazy for couple-preneurs.
But being parent-preneurs made things easier for us. Varun and I, as parents, are working together towards a common goal that makes up for everything else. Of all things, the trust that our strong marriage brings to the business is a blessing in disguise.
Ghazal: A day in my life passes too quickly, I wish I could add a few extra hours to it. The pressure of achieving deadlines of work for the day and also taking some time out to spend some quality time with my son keeps it interesting.
Ah! Balancing motherhood and a start-up business is a challenge for sure and let me be honest I rarely work when Agastya is awake and around me as his well-being is a top priority for me. I get three good hours when Agastya is at school which I use for all my social interactions, which require me to be physically or telephonically present.
Otherwise nights, early morning hours and black coffee are my best friends. I use that time to do all the thinking, planning, writing and emailing.
I have realized if we have a strong purpose behind what we are doing we will find the time and energy to do it.
Ghazal: Being a mumpreneur, the ability to handle the challenges of new business while raising a kid has been my biggest achievement. I would proudly say that I’m living up to my expectations.
Right from the inception of Mamaearth, we have been collaborating with mothers to identify, understand and solve their baby-related problems by offering innovative, natural and toxin-free baby products.
I feel extremely proud. Mamaearth’s promise to all parents is that it will always strive to reduce parental stress by providing safe, healthy and natural solutions to their problems.
Ghazal: I would say ‘read the labels.’ It’s very important to know what kind of ingredients these products contain. Too many baby products in the market contain ingredients like mineral oils, parabens, and SLES which can be very harmful to a baby’s immune system.
Always go for toxin-free products. It’s best to check the ingredients thoroughly before making a purchase decision.
Ghazal: We started with products that babies most frequently use. We launched with six products for shampoo. These included shampoo, wash, lotion, sunscreen, diaper rash cream and 100 percent natural mosquito repellant.
The product to begin with was tedious. We did not how to ensure our consumers trusted us since we were new in the market. That’s when we decided we will let an external agency certify our products to be safe. This made it easier for our consumers to trust and believe us.
We decided to go with Madesafe.org, a not for profit organization based out of US which checks each and every product to be free from 8,000 known toxins present in baby products. We became Asia’s first brand to have Madesafe Certified products.
Mamaearth is Asia’s first Madesafe certified brand that offers 100 percent toxin-free and natural baby and mama care products.
Most Innovative Products
- Easy Tummy Roll-On Or Hing Roll-On: This product is based on the age old recipe of applying asafoetida (hing) on baby’s tummy. This, to avoid flatulence and colic issues. We now have it in a easy to use roll on form
- All Natural Mosquito Protection Range (six products): The chemicals used in regular mosquito repellents might be too harsh for babies. Hence, our best selling natural repellents based on oils like citronella are a better choice for babies. These are available in spray, roll on, patches etc formats starting Rs 99. We also have an after-bite roll on, just in case any pesky mosquito ends up biting you to reduce irritation.
- India’s 1stBamboo Based Wipes: Most wipes are made of polyesters. These are is neither safe for the environment nor for the baby’s skin. Our wipes are made of 100 percent organic bamboo and certified by madesafe.
- Body Mists For Babies: Alcohol-free, water-based fragrances for babies.
- Hair Masks For Adults: We not only take care of babies but moms as well, we have products for all mama issues including hairfall which is a severe issue postpartum. We have three hair masks. They are best sellers on Amazon, Argan Hair Mask, Onion Hair Mask and Tea Tree Hair Mask.
- Ubtan Face Wash and Ubtan Face Mask: With saffron and turmeric for adults
Q: Last year you got Shilpa Shetty Kundra to become your brand ambassador. How did you manage this wonderful coup? What made her gravitate towards Mamaearth?
Ghazal: Having Shilpa Shetty Kundra, the super mom, onboard is evidence of industry acceptance that we have already achieved.
After we met Shilpa, she asked us for our products. She told us that she’d only collaborate with us if she liked the products.
Eight months passed by, and we had almost lost hope when we got a call. We were told that Shilpa loved our products and was even interested in investing in the company.
The biggest lessons we have learnt during this journey are:
- Dream big – having ambitious plans keeps you going as an entrepreneur, allowing you to push the envelope.
- Ask for help when you need it. Entrepreneurship is a very hard and lonely journey. And, asking for help can save you from constantly having to re-invent the wheel.
- Find something you are really passionate about and make it your calling. You will suddenly find new energy which you never thought you had.